Dangerous Compassions

cactus blooms

I did a stressful thing, pertaining to radical mental health.  It was so meaningful and important to me, and totally a big deal.  So I told Ming–I’m going to do this stressful thing, and I need your help.  Afterward, I can’t do anything.  I need to just rest.  Will you help me?

He said yes.  The stressful thing went amazing–really it could not have gone better.  I was giving my usual 20 minute radical mental health presentation that I’ve done six or seven times, but rather than helping train street medics or nurses, or informing random activists, I was presenting to some peers in Canada.  And rather than 20 minutes, it was a 45 minute version.

So I’d never done anything quite like that before.  I added a ton.  I knew these people might take my ideas and do a lot of good with them–they’re in a position to do so.

Some of my very favorite ideas: words like “crazy” I reclaim, what a diagnosis is, the longevity and open source possibilities of the Las Vegas Radical Mental Health Collective, philosophy behind radical mental health, origins and other orgs, having many tools in our toolboxes…  I had the time to go into detail.  We even heard my rap Noncompliant.  It was sweet to have that as a break in the middle.

brilliant question

Then there was Q&A.  Someone asked a brilliant question.  Then after I answered, she pushed harder, which helped me articulate something I’d never been able to articulate before.  Wow, thank you, bright stranger.

Her question was about medication–she was asking about if it would be ok, for a radical mental health person to take psych meds.  I tried to explain how a full range of engagement with mainstream medicine is ok–it’s about supporting a person where they’re at.  Hating medicine is not required at all.  I think maybe the “pro-choice” throws people off, when I say we’re pro-choice about meds.  They start thinking about abortion and get derailed?

After she pushed, I explained that radical mental health isn’t necessarily anti-medication–it’s just removing medication from being central to what we’re doing, and putting love at the center.   Medication is ok to include in what we do–it’s just not what we’re showing up for.  Love is what we’re showing up for.

Then I said how when I visit a psychiatrist, what we’re doing is not about love–it’s about medication, definitely.  Medication is central.  That explanation helped her understand, and I feel very happy I could build on my 15 years of experience with radical mental health to express something important.

cactus blooms

Ming wanted to go to an art show at the university.  Our activist artist acquaintance was speaking on a panel, and then there was a show in a gallery.

I said I would go with him but walk around–I couldn’t handle interacting with people.  Joyfully, I saw these cactus blooms, amazing.  Wow, first I marveled at the flowers, huge and dramatic, but hard to photograph!cactus blooms

I think it’s San Pedro, who is psychoactive, but I heard you have to eat a lot of it, and it’s not delicious.

Then I marveled at the smell.  So lovely!  Warm, round, flowery smell with a hint of sharper jasmine.  Just divine.  How could people walk by like nothing?  Why was there not a flower riot?

cactus blooms

I knew the blooms wouldn’t last.  Fall blooms are so charming.  I understand that huge flowering of late spring–the world is busting full of that summer energy.  Afterward, the fall bloom of summer’s relief is a bonus miracle.

Then I got amazed by the buds.  Wow, so huge, compact, stripey, full of potential, and beautiful in their own way.  I like big buds and I cannot lie!

big buds

Ming back on the scene

Then Ming was done with the art thing, and he returned to me.  I asked him to smell the cactus blooms.  We shared the flower-love.

I kept asking him to get closer, but he was afraid of a bee.  So his smile is flower joy, plus amused half-silly bee fear.

cactus blooms

Thank you for risking your nose for me, darling.  What a sweet spouse you are.

Unfortunately I risked my mind for you, as we forgot loud airplanes would be passing overhead every thirty seconds, at school, by the huge airport.  So my hour of walking around random campus buildings got me to the point of autistic meltdown because of sensory issues, and I was overmuch for two days afterward.  Live and learn!

By Laura-Marie

Good at listening to the noise until it makes sense.

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